One of the great things about Lions tours is that players from different countries get the opportunity to play with one another and get to know each other off the field.
Players from Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland would usually be knocking lumps out of each other on the pitch but they have to park that rivalry aside for two months or so to become teammates and secure a series victory.
One of the light-hearted backdrops to this is year’s Lions tour to New Zealand was the blossoming bromance between Ireland’s Sean O’Brien and England’s James Haskell. We all know that Haskell is a bit of a character and we saw a very funny dynamic between the pair through social media during the summer. Constant slagging, especially over their perceived obsession with their phones gave us a good laugh when serious stuff about beating the All Blacks became all that bit too much.
Sean O’Brien and Tadhg Furlong were both speaking at the One-Zero conference in Dublin yesterday and when host, Joe Molloy, asked Furlong to tell the audience something about O’Brien that they didn’t know, he quipped:
“All that stuff with James Haskell was 100% scripted! If you look at it, he’s always messaging James Haskell saying ‘when are you going to release the next video, James?'”, Furlong jested.
This prompted O’Brien to go into further detail about his relationship with Haskell and he revealed he got a bit worried with the Englishman’s obsession with recording him, especially in compromising situations…
“That’s completely incorrect [scripted friendship], I’m worried about what he [Haskell] has because he was videoing me when I didn’t know he was videoing me at times! There was a few in the shower and stuff when I didn’t know he was videoing me but I would look back and I’d kind see him…weird stuff!
“Not as weird as him painting his nails or being on the phone to his missus for about 10 hours a day.”
O’Brien was then more serious when he admitted that although he would have had perceptions about the English flanker in the past, he really enjoyed his company on the tour and that Haskell was great around the camp throughout their time in New Zealand.
“It was a good relationship actually, it was a good distraction. He’s genuinely a really good fella and I think a lot of people had different perceptions of him.
“I probably did for a few years there but getting to know him, he’s a good lad and he was brilliant on the tour as well because he was a fella who probably wasn’t in the mix for Test teams but was so positive around the environment with his messages during the week and how he trained, he kept everyone entertained over there.”
With the Lions documentary coming out soon we may get to see more of this bromance that we hadn’t seen before and it will be interesting to see them reacquaint themselves with one another when Ireland play England on the last day of the 2018 Six Nations.